“This week, the UK Government published the long-awaited Energy White Paper which provided greater clarity on the essential rapid decarbonisation of our energy system, describing how we can stay on track to deliver net zero while driving a sustainable economic recovery.
“At WSP, we welcome that this is written as a low carbon industrial strategy, aimed at delivering on the Committee on Climate Change’s carbon budgets while ensuring we build back better across every region of the UK in the wake of the pandemic.
“Building on the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan, the paper lays out Government’s thinking on how to deliver the electrification of key sectors including housing, transport and industry. However, we await the results of consultations on the Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy to get a fuller sense of the breadth of ambition when it comes to the decarbonisation of the UK’s manufacturing base.
“While questions remain about whether what is contained in the paper will be enough to deliver a fully decarbonised electricity system by 2035, the announcement of a UK Emissions Trading Scheme from January 2021 (which is likely to be aligned with the net zero target) is encouraging news for the sector.
“At the paper’s heart is a desire to deliver a just transition while creating green collar jobs around nationally significant projects, such as mass scale home insulation, Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) and hydrogen. On both CCUS and hydrogen, the real detail will come in 2021 and WSP will continue to support BEIS on securing strong financial backing and incentives for these essential technologies on the road to net zero.
“The announced North Sea Transition Deal, which will support UK-based oil and gas supply chains to secure new low carbon export opportunities, is exactly what the economy needs at this time. It will provide a strong signal to industry and investors alike that the UK will ensure the supply chain is geared towards decarbonisation. The Government’s support for 18GW of Interconnection to Europe is welcome and WSP looks forward to continuing to work with its clients on our 6GW portfolio of projects to help deliver on this ambition. A greater ambition on the role of interconnectors is good news as this is one of the UK’s often unsung success stories.
“Domestically, the recognition of the need to improve building energy efficiency, both to cut emissions and deliver lower bills for customers, is welcome. However, we need to move beyond assessments of the task at hand and into delivery. This will very much depend on the mechanisms put forward in the Buildings and Heat Strategy which is due out next year. We expect that the Future Homes Standard, greater mechanisms to attract private finance to operate the rapid shift towards heat pumps and a minimum EPC C rating will be unveiled then.
“Overall, this is a welcome document. While some details remain to be ironed out, its core is aligned with where the market is headed, and confirms that net zero is the name of the game when it comes to energy, industry and our broader economy. As a firm with ambitious commitments around decarbonisation, WSP welcomes this and stands ready to deliver on its ambition and will engage our client base to assess how best we can support them.’’